Whether you are new to San Diego are or an old-timer, I think it is always interesting to learn about local places and people. Schlepping and Schmoozing through San Diego County, Volume One is a new book by Donald H. Harrison. It is filled with stories about people and places in San Diego County with a Jewish twist. This is a bonus for San Diego, a place more known for its military presence, not its “Jewishness” unlike New York City.
Harrison is actually from New York, but moved to California as a teen with his family. He is now practically a native Californian. He brings to this book a keen journalistic eye as he has worked in the field of journalism for various publications, as well as his own, since 1962. He also has a deep sense of Jewish history and culture. In addition, he worked in public relations in San Diego for several years.
The nice thing about this book is that you can either read it cover to cover or go through the extensive Table of Contents and choose the chapters that catch your eye. The book is in chronological order starting in 1987 and ending in 2019.
I did the latter and there were 18 stories that I was particularly drawn to read, such as his stories on immigrants, Immigrant Stories Told at the New Americans Museum — and his stories on Jewish Family Service and how they have served the community for over 100 years — JFS, Looking Back a Century, Recalls Rose Neumann. Moreover, I liked his stories on people who converted and intermarried couples — “Christina de Jesus is a Jewish Song Leader” and “Intermarried Couple Honors Each Other’s Beliefs”. His curious nature has served him well in life.
There are also many stories related to the history of San Diego, such as “Plaque Recalling First Roseville Hotel Unveiled”.
Since San Diego has a strong military presence, there are two chapters I liked touching on that-“Liberation Moment at Miramar National Cemetery Honors Ex-POW’s” and “Jews of the US Military Honored at Veteran’s Museum”.
One of his best received articles is the one on the passing of San Diego’s First Lady of Holocaust Survivors, Gussie Zaks— “Community Says Goodbye to Gussie Zaks”. It is his tribute to her and the community that loved her, and it struck a chord with many readers.
Finally, there are also several chapters about his adventures sightseeing in San Diego from the coast to East County as well as points north and south which he describes with gusto. I liked his chapters on Seal Tours, Living with Animals, The Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park, and Birch Aquarium. In addition, every year he goes to Comic-Con with engaging observations. Check out “Survivor Ruth G. Saks Impresses Comic Con Audience”.
The motto of his publication, San Diego Jewish World, a daily online newspaper, is “There is a Jewish Story Everywhere” and Harrison sure knows how to find them.
New Works by Local Authors
By Mimi Pollak
A number of new works by loc la authors are out now, just in time for your fall reading list! Here are dome of our favorites.
When The Numbers Don’t Add Up, by Patty Bialak
Pasha Stern, a successful accountant with an uncanny talent for forensics uncovers a multi-million-dollar international crime during a routine corporate audit. Pasha uses her creative computer programming skills to identify errors in the minutia of spreadsheet data glossed over by Teken, Inc.’s previous auditors.
Shocking discoveries bring her face to face with a disparate cast of suspects and prompts a working relationship with the FBI. Newly-minted temporary Special Agent Pasha Stern steps into the world of terrorists, extremists, and traitors. After a lifetime of rejecting her Jewish lineage, she must now decide how much she will risk helping Israel.
Although Pasha is smart, she’s also naïve. At a mere 5’3″, Pasha is mentally and physically tough as nails. But her naivete makes us laugh and her ability to love deeply breaks our hearts all at the same time. This story takes the reader on a roller coaster ride up and down the west coast of California, across the globe to Israel and back again where she discovers her taste for the thrill of the chase.
A Dreidel In Time, by Marcia Berneger, illustrated by Beatriz Castro
Devorah and Benjamin are excited to open their Hanukkah present from Bubbe and Zayde but it’s only an old dreidel. It is a big disappointment until it transports them out of modern Los Angeles to join the Maccabees! Once they convince a suspicious Judah Maccabee and their friends that they have arrived to help, they use what they know about the Hanukkah story from Hebrew school to aid the Maccabees in their battles against Antiochus and they rededicate the Temple with their new friends. They know that the miracle of Hanukkah relies on finding the special consecrated oil, but where could it be?
Teachers, Have You Ever? by Cheryl Kolker and Jan Landau
Teachers, Have You Ever? Is compilation of true, unbelievably believable teacher tales that allows those who teach and anyone who has ever been taught, to be entertained, to laugh, to commiserate, and to connect and identify with the unique perspective of teachers.
That being said, in the words of the authors, “there is no doubt that being educators was certainly one of the most important and fulfilling roles in our lives. As teachers, we had the daily responsibility and privilege of helping to build a foundation for the love of learning and strength of character in our students. But in order to come through the stresses of the day without resorting to more than one glass of wine a night, we self-medicated with an ever expanding sense of humor.”